No Paisa, No Problem

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No Paisa, No Problem (2000)
Cast: Humayun Saeed, Fakhar-e-Alam, Noor, Nirma, Sana
Director: Faisal Bukhari
Nutshell: Some Like it Hot Lollywood style…..well, perhaps not, but a fun jaunt nonetheless

 

Whilst quality has never fallen into his domain, a Sajjad Gul film usually guarantees a good time, and his latest No Paisa No Problem is no exception. The storyline, incredulous in a way that only subcontinental cinema can be, features Humayun Saeed dressing in drag to impersonate a female prostitute and swindling “her” clients, in order to raise cash for his desperate family.

Events lead him to meeting Fakhr-e-Alam, an unhappy alcoholic mysogynist, desperate to marry in order to please his rich grandfather, whose sole aim in life is to have greatgrandchildren. Humayun agrees to pose as Fakhr’s wife for handsome financial rewards, he takes to this role with great gusto, even going so far as to fake a pregnancy. However, no one had counted on Fakhr’s evil uncle who’s hopes are also set on the grandfather’s money and who will stop at nothing to prevent the birth of an heir to this much sort after fortune.

Adequately directed (though most of the humour in admittedly unintentional), this mindless caper generally depends on it’s surprisingly amusing script – the laughs come thick and fast in the first half, sagging somewhat (but not much) in the second half where the film is unsure as to whether it’s a family drama or a comedy after all (as it happens, the family drama is far more amusing than the comedic plot).

The music, though not notable, is quite enjoyable with the theme song being especially catchy. The dance sequences are entertaining, fast moving, and well conceived on the whole.

Letting the side down are the extremely mediocre supporting stars – Fakhr is restrained to the point of being ridiculous as an the archetypal angry young man, betrayed in love by the fabulous femme fatale Nirma, featured in all her doe eyed glory. Other than Nirma’s feathered boa-ed guest appearance, the heroines are fairly incidental to the story.

Noor, Humayun’s love interest is vapid at best, bordering on insufferable, whilst Sana’s existence is fairly pointless other than as the shapely body to put in a sari and move to music. In fact, by far the best woman in the movie wasn’t even featured on the screen, up and coming TV actress Nadia Jamil who has dubbed for Humayun’s female incarnation in her distinctively husky voice.

If one thing is evident in this film it is why Humayun Saeed is currently Pakistan’s No. 1 hero. Aside from his looking quite gorgeous as a man and less repulsive than expected as a woman (better than Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie at any rate), his performance even in this ludicrous role shows him as an acting force to be reckoned with. His comic timing is impeccable and his trademark vitality and vulnerability quite irresistable. After playing a negative character in his first film, the contraversial Inteha, it’s great to see that he still hasn’t jumped on the typical romantic hero bandwagon and has the guts to feature in drag and carry it off. Full marks to him.

Enjoying No Paisa No Problem depends entirely on the viewer – if you are expecting a credible, intelligent comedy you will be sorely disappointed, however if you solely want to have a good time and do not object to bucketloads of stupidity and occasional vulgarity, No Paisa is the perfect anecdote to the loud and dreary melodrama that Pakistani films have traditionally relied on.